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Ministry Impact

Articles on how to reach more people in the community through service or mercy ministry.

3 Ways You Can Have More Impact Without More Budget

Collaborating with other service agencies can help you, as it helps our ministry, work more efficiently and get more done. How?

Building a Ramp1) Getting projects via referral. We get a good percentage of our projects in this manner. Your church or service/outreach ministry might be able to, also! Each community partner you work with has a unique “sweet spot” where they focus.

Here's an example from our world. Often, our community partner's specialty is with survival basics such as food, clothing, rent, utility funds and counseling. But when their low-income, home-owning clients have a repair or accessibility need they can’t meet, they often send them to us. Sometimes, they even send along materials funding! Are there partner organizations in your community who need your services? And, if you turn it around, are there services that your congregants or clients need that a community partner can help with?

Working together like this can make everyone involved more efficient and effective, as well as make things easier for people needing help.

2) You can get more projects done more quickly. Again, using our experience as an example, we save time by getting most of our projects from referrals (from other nonprofits and service agencies) and having many of them come to us pre-qualified. That helps us do more projects in a shorter time period. Rather than chasing down needs and having to qualify them all ourselves, we get to focus on how we might help and “rounding up the troops.”

If you developed tight relationships with some trusted agencies, could you leverage the power of pre-qualification to get more done and have a greater impact?

Handymen Unleashed3) You might have heard us talk about this before, but serving other non-profits and agencies by helping them serve more (in our case, by improving, repairing or maintaining their facilities) is a highly strategic community investment. We don’t just serve an organization, we help impact the thousands of people they are serving, and in some cases, the additional thousands more they can help because of the improvement!

It may look different for your church, ministry or organization, but if you are involved in serving and helping people, can you leverage your unique skills and abilities to help other organizations make a bigger impact for the Kingdom of Christ?

For Christian organizations, it brings to mind what Paul says about the church in 1 Corinthians 12:12-26.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.



Strength in Numbers

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10,12 shows that “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (NRSV) We’ve seen that wisdom from God lived out in our ministry.

We were desiring to serve more people and grow the ministry, but increasing the budget wasn't an option. Sound familiar?

We knew that we needed help, so late in 2012, we asked several of our top volunteers to come on as an Advisory team that we now call “The Core Team”. They were originally intended to be a sounding Board and operational assistance for our two staff. They have been more valuable than we could have imagined (in fact, most off them have joined our Board of Directors!).

With their individual skills, strengths and passions, they have helped in a number of areas:

  1. Managing home repair and accessibility projects (allowing the ministry to multiply impact).
  2. Helping us update our overall direction for the ministry and strategic plan. Like Proverbs 11:14 teaches, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” (ESV).
  3. Connecting with a foundation, which allowed for a very helpful discussion about how we present what we do and what foundations look for.
  4. Perhaps most importantly, giving us encouragement!

  5. How about you? Are there areas where your ministry wants to improve or expand, but you don’t have enough staff and Board to tackle it all? Have you fully leveraged your ministry’s “super volunteers”?

    2011 photos and videos 3995Did a face or name pop into your mind? If not, can you think of people who work with you regularly, with the heart, commitment, vision and availability to take on more and provide your critical services to the community? It might start simply with some men and women providing some new ideas and insights - plotting out your most critical needs and next steps.

    And looking at it from the other side, are you managing your faithful volunteers well? Are there opportunities that you could be providing for them to grow and feel more valued? By fully leveraging volunteers (while being respectful of schedules!), everyone wins – your organization can provide more services, volunteers are challenged and allowed to grow, and the community gets more needs met!


Categories: Ministry Impact, Volunteers Tags:

Mercy Ministry - Embrace the Mess!

Mercy ministry involves getting involved in people's lives, often in very messy situations. It can be exasperating and difficult... And it could be considered one of the purest representations of the gospel there is.

Someone comes alongside a person in need, oftentimes in a terrible state, offers help or resources that they do not have access to (or technically deserve) to help them with their current dilemma and loves on them beyond anything that they deserve. Sometimes the person helping can even offer training or skills to help that person get out of their mess.

Does that sound familiar at all? What a great picture of the gospel! God finds us in a self-inflicted mess caused by our sin, out of love offers us hope and a real solution through Jesus Christ, and gives us the resources through the Holy Spirit to change.

As Ephesians 2:4 so well puts it, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)…” (NKJV)

Mercy Ministry - Embrace the MessPerhaps it’s another aspect of God’s mercy that He, who found sinners like us, in much the same state, uses us as instruments of His grace to others in need? How cool is that?

So, if you’re handy (even if it’s just cleaning an elderly person’s or single mother’s yard), a home repair ministry is a great way to exhibit and share God’s mercy. A nice side benefit of a home repair ministry is that it’s not terribly likely to cause someone to become dependent and create another “messy cycle” (for reasons mentioned in our blog, Avoiding the Dependency Trap). If you have some handyman skills but are not sure where or how to start your own ministry, please sign up for our resource library. We can help you.


Increasing Ministry Impact by Doing Less (...ourselves)

If you have been following the ministry for a while, you know that our heart is to extend the gospel, our outreach and the ministry as far as we can while uniting the church together in service. Last year’s strategy was built around providing a toolkit and resources for churches to launch their own ministries. This year, we are making an adjustment and adding an element we lacked last year - one that we believe will help more churches start teams and more projects get done.

We have been blessed with some very gifted volunteers but until now, have not organized them to act together. We are convinced that we can use volunteers more effectively for leadership roles on projects and in assisting in all aspects of running the ministry. The last couple months, we have been meeting with some faithful people that have been involved and committed to the vision of HRM and are now stepping up to use their time and expertise in critical focus areas. These areas include project site visits & leadership, networking to professional resources, fundraising, planning, supporting existing church teams, and ministry expansion into other areas of Metro Atlanta. We are currently calling the group The Core Team. It will act both as an advisory board and an implementation team.

If you're in Atlanta and you, or someone you know, have a heart for this kind of thing, please let me know. We think this is an excellent strategy to increase our impact and number of projects in 2013 from around 50 to 75 and the number of churches participating from 15 to 23.


6 Project Success Indicators for Your Service Ministry

Let's take a look at some of your possible success indicators to help you measure both Project work and your overall Ministry effectiveness.

Here are some key areas that you could review to gauge project success and identify areas for ministry improvement. Remember to follow-up with the client for their input:

  • The quality and completion of the work
  • The appropriate clean up was completed
  • The client was personally satisfied with the work
  • The client’s spiritual needs were addressed
  • The client’s desire for prayer and contact with a local church were addressed
  • The project documentation was complete and filed for historical reference

What are the success indicators for your Ministry?

  • Number of projects completed by the team per month/year
  • Number of volunteers involved in the course of a month/year
  • Client's connected with local churches through the ministry experience. (This can be hard to quantify.)
  • Number of clients that were followed up within a month/six months to determine additional needs
  • Number of joint projects that occurred with other church teams or ministries.


The Ministry Opportunity You May Be Sitting On

Churches are trying to get the most outreach impact they can from available resources, but there’s a tricky issue – available resource. On top of that, we know we have limited hours in a day and can feel it - palpably. Churches have to be smart and strategic in the Kingdom work they do to be good and faithful stewards of what God has given them.

Home Repairs GuySo here’s the punchline. For this opportunity, you may not need to think about starting a new ministry. Your church may already be sitting on top of one that already exists (or at least has the potential to exist) in your church! Think about this. Who’s the guy you call or would call if you had a widow in your church with a leaky faucet? Who is always helping out when something breaks or needs to get built. Does a face or two spring to mind? Odds are pretty good that this person may not be formally plugged in with a ministry and has trouble figuring out where and how to serve. Why wouldn’t you want that guy reaching out to more people in your congregation or your community? Maybe it’s time to turn ‘em loose!

Widow on new deckAnd you do that by starting a home repair ministry. A home repair ministry is an opportunity for your church to love on and serve your widows, single moms, elderly and disabled members, and to serve these same groups out in your community. In fact, once your team learns how to get referrals you may find what our Executive Director describes as a very odd phenomonon. People in your comumnity inviting your Christ-followers into their homes. How's that for an outreach opportunity? Cool, huh?

You’re probably thinking that this sounds good, but let’s get real, staff and ministry leaders don’t have time to throw at another ad hoc thing. The beauty of a home repairs ministry is that it’s designed to be lay-led. Past receiving the occasional update, staff doesn’t have to get further involved unless they want to.

If you’re looking for some guidance on how to get started, we have a library of content including ministry vision, how to get started, how and where to get referrals, project management, volunteer management and more. We like to think of it as a home repair ministry “in a box”. Get a Sneak Peek of what's available!

We also provide access to a network of churches with home repair ministries (right now mainly in Atlanta, but starting to spread nationally). Will you join us? We do not charge for the site (but you can make a donation if you are able). Check out what you get from Home Repairs Ministries

You can also click “Contact Us” near the bottom of this webpage to directly contact us with questions you might have.

The Importance of Work, Life and Balance

I wanted to share a good blog post and reminder from The High Calling on the Importance of Work, Life and Balance.

Article

Categories: Life balance, Ministry Impact, Service Tags:

Six Suggestions for Managing Volunteers

If someone were to ask you about the most critical resources that you need to carry out your ministry (or if you are considering starting a ministry), what would you answer? Would it be:

  • A place to meet and organize
  • A strong, engaged leader
  • Money to carry out your mission
  • Time

Volunteers on-siteWe know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the heart of any Christian ministry. But did you ever think about your volunteers being the life-giving blood cells carrying the oxygen (i.e. your ministry service) to where it needs to go? Are you pouring time and effort into your ministries' volunteers?

Whatever your particular ministry is, volunteer management and relationship building will be one of the key factors in your ministries' success and longevity. It is difficult to succeed if you are not recruiting, engaging, training and following-up with your volunteers in a systematic way.  Here are six suggestions for managing and growing your volunteers and improving your ministry impact.

1)      Screen your volunteers – This may seem like a strange thing to feature in a section on volunteer management, but it is a critical step for ministries focused on outreach and interacting with clients. Perform a background check and protect your clients AND the volunteer. Screen for potential problems on the up-front and save yourself and your volunteers from potential trouble.

2)      Keep track of your volunteers' skills in a database or book – For a ministry that is very multi-faceted, like a home repair ministry, it is very helpful to know what your volunteers' skills are and what kinds of jobs they can and cannot do. The church presents a wonderful diversity of giftedness. As Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians (4:16) - From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (NIV – emphasis mine). Knowing the skills of your volunteers gives you a chance to put them in projects where they can succeed. Remember to have your volunteers give you their schedule for service (when and how often) and honor it. By the way, we have a volunteer spreadsheet that we have used that your welcome to use if you sign up as a Ministry Partner.

Training sign

Photo courtesy of Cristian Galletti, freeimages.com)

3)      Train your volunteers and onboard them – Whatever your volunteer's skills are, they should be familiarized with how your ministry operates, what support they can expect from leadership, your program history, etc. Give them the information that they need to be productive and to determine if your ministry is the right one for them. Better to find these things out early and get the right people involved and not just warm bodies (although with creativity you can have unskilled laborers – of which I include myself - involved in cleaning up, setting up and feeding the other volunteers). If your ministry is not a fit then there certainly is another ministry home for the volunteer. Regardless of your volunteer's skill set, leave jobs with a significant potential for injury (i.e. the use of high ladders) to professionals.

4)      Recommend liability insurance if your ministry carries injury risk – Just like at home, injuries can occur when volunteering with a home repair ministry. Falling off ladders, tripping over cords and wires, and other injuries do happen to volunteers. If your volunteers are not covered for personal injuries, it is strongly advised that you clearly explain the necessity of carrying personal liability insurance prior to engaging in any home repair efforts. It is the obligation of a home repairs ministry to notify volunteers of the lack of personal liability coverage. To protect your ministry you should also have your volunteers sign a legal waiver form.

5)      Do not take on jobs that you lack the volunteer skills for (or lack the manpower to do the job quickly) – We try to never take on a project that takes more than one or two days. Long projects tend to sap the strength and morale of your team.

6)      Follow-up with your volunteers – Ask them if their skills are being utilized correctly. See if there are other roles that the volunteer might want to take on or learn. Look for opportunities to move volunteers into a leadership position (as appropriate). As with paying jobs the potential for leadership and/or growth can motivate your volunteers to stick with you.

By taking the time to help your volunteers thrive and succeed you will ultimately encourage them to stick with you for the long haul and help your ministry serve with excellence.

Igniting Your Ministry Impact

A great way to multiply your impact, whether you are an Outreach Ministry, Mercy Ministry, or other Non-Profit organization, is to build service networks with other community service non-profits. Find logical synergies with other organizations or find needs that they have to help more people in the area. You can take several approaches, such as directly partnering with the other agency or using your organization's skills or services to supplement their offerings. The Foundation Center's National Collaboration Database - collaboration.foundationcenter.org/ - is a good resource for additional ideas for partnering opportunities. Some of these include sharing space, combining marketing efforts and sharing staff.

Here are potential scenarios to illustrate some of the opportunities you might want to pursue. Say, for example, you have a home repairs ministry like ours. If you poke around enough, you can probably find a co-op or food pantry that needs help with repairs. Or maybe you can make a strategic investment and help them convert some unused space into a thrift store. That helps the co-op raise more money and provides low-income homeowners, some of whom may also be your clients, necessary and affordable goods. Another options is to help a non-profit with storage space. Giving an organization a way to store more supplies (such as cans of food for a food pantry or clothing storage for a homeless services organization) is a terrific way to help them serve more people.

What if you have a car repair ministry or non-profit organization? How about providing oil changes for those driving to the food bank to pick up food for the week? Now your partnership is adding to the service value chain for your constituency. You'd be surprised at how valuable even a small non-profit can be when they are strategic about extending their reach. Are you starting to see the potential here?

In addition to the satisfaction of helping more people and living out your organization's vision, there are some practical benefits to partnering with community non-profits as well. While you're growing your service footprint in the community, you are also building trust with a valuable network of community partners. If a client comes into their establishment or they get a referral with a need that your ministry can provide, guess who they are going to call? And that works both ways. If someone you are helping needs additional help that one of your partners can provide, you just built a deeper relationship with and provided more help for your client.

Before you undertake any projects, make sure to check with your Board of Directors to make sure that they are in alignment with your vision for extending your non-profit. Despite the best of intentions, it may turn out that it doesn't make sense for you to take up some or all of the partnerships that are described here. But if there is a strategic fit, your only limit on multiplying your impact is your imagination and the time you have to apply to the endeavor.

Want to take part in one of these partnerships? If you live in Atlanta, join HRM on a project! To sign up or for more information

Confessions of a Former Christian Snob

I grew up with a mindset that our own denomination had abandoned the Word of God and the Christ-centered faith it represented. However, about the time I married my wife, a new group started and we became part of it. Over the years, I was infected with the illness of disdain for other Christians not part of our group. In fact, at one point, one of my Christian objectives was to try to show everyone else the error of their ways.

About fifteen years ago, I realized that when I stood before the throne of mercy, I would need mercy myself because of the misunderstandings I held regarding Kingdom living, loving God and others, Christ's mandate to serve others in need in light of His unspeakable sacrifice for me, etc. So if I need a vast outpouring of grace over those things, how in the world could I look askance at those who trust Christ alone for their salvation and faithfully follow Him, but do it with various approaches different from my own?

That realization came about as I was beginning to make connections to pastors in the inner-city neighborhood where I was ministering. The conviction has only grown stronger since that time and it has been my joy to work with churches Unite!in the Unite! network in Atlanta. These have a commitment to make sure they have a "beyond the walls of the church" focus by forging a partnership of Christ-centered churches serving together. These churches have implemented initiatives that were strengthened as we addressed them side-by-side. The results have been amazing.

The prayerIt’s in this spirit that we started our own outreach ministry - Home Repairs Ministries (HRM). While it’s true that HRM has given me a lot of joy (because I like to work with people with hand and tool skills who want to serve Christ and homeowners in need), I have another motive. I want to see the Body of Christ operating in an Ephesians 4 model of unity. Maybe it would be helpful to go back and read the first part of that chapter to see what I mean. Because of this desire, I get a lot of satisfaction when we put together a group of church teams several times a year when we need a large crowd to do a lot of work in a short time-period.

Churches serving togetherHere's an example - in January, we re-roofed a widow's home in one day, which required many hands doing different tasks at the same time. On the site were six churches - two Baptist, two non-denominational, one Lutheran, and one Presbyterian. It was a mix of languages, races, and certainly theological perspectives. We didn't get hung up on points of disagreement and the elderly woman we served got a big hug from the Body of Jesus. We had a good devotion talking about why we serve and how we were responding to the mercy mandate of the Gospel and then we prayed for the homeowner and her sister (who claims the name of Christ). In projects, it is vital to balance the theological and practical, Word and deed, forbearance and truth in the main/plain things of the faith. But as Paul reminds us, “…the greatest of these is love.”

Harvey